Native Garden Project Finished- Woohoo!!

I had a date this morning – with 40 bags of Grade A cedar mulch.  Fortunately I didn’t have to tackle it alone.  My husband opened and poured while I raked and spread.

Just to recap………

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

This is what we started with about 6 weeks ago.

Next came a back wrenching day with the sod cutter that gave us this….

After setting border

After setting border

Then the native plants were in place and the soaker hose laid down….

The trial run was a success.  Even, drippy moisture.

The trial run was a success. Even, drippy moisture.

And today- ta da!!!- mulch!!

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3" depth the landscaper suggested.  And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

The plants are young and it was almost impossible to get the 3″ depth the landscaper suggested. And we should have evened up the surface a little more.

Here are a couple of closeups….

Goldenrod

Goldenrod

Ozark Bluestar

Ozark Bluestar

Here is the complete list of natives we planted: purple muhly grass, prairie rose, hibiscus, penstemon, goldenrod, coneflower, blue sage, joe pye, bergamot, beautyberry, false indigo, Ozark bluestar and prairie blazing star.  And of course, an Eastern redbud tree.  I don’t expect any blooms this year, but everything is still healthy after being in the ground almost two weeks.

So…..on to the next project.  No rest of the wicked.  Since we still had a LITTLE energy left after laying the mulch, we cleaned the old mulch and inches of spilled birdseed out of the old beds next to the patio and spread mulch on them.  Oh, did I mention that we only used 29 of the 40 bags.  There was no way we could have used them all – and I cut down the number from the 50 the landscaper told me to buy.  Then around to the front yard where I planted this is my grandmother’s old washpot.

I lovethe tall Spike in the middle.  Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

I love the tall Spike in the middle. Behind it is aspargus ferns, Black Dragon for contrast, impatients and Moneywort.

My husband cut the seat out of this old chair in the large bed in the front.  I zip-tied a basket with coconut husk liner, but ran out of potting soil.  I’m not sure what I’m going to plant in it.  There’s  not much to choose from for shade plants.

IMG_1070

This should be really nice with plants “growing” out of the seat.

Speaking of potting soil, I’ve never really found one I like that will hold moisture.  I found this at Organics OKC.  Pricey, but hopefully worth it.

IMG_1073

Lots of good stuff in it. Should have for $18 a bag.

I’m off to email my native plant images to Habitat Hero in Colorado.  Although Oklahoma doesn’t have a local chapter, they are interested in native gardens everywhere.  Susan J. Tweit is one of the founders.  She’s been my inspiration.

So,what else is on the list….vacuum, clean bathrooms (ugh), laundry, fresh sheets on the bed, work on baby quilt….refill tea glass, lay down, turn on Netflix, watch episode of Foyle’s War.  Yeah, I like that list better :).

Simple blessings to all!

 

 

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Starting Fresh From a Different Angle

After a three year hiatus, Simple Stewardship is back in the blogosphere.

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For three years I posted diligently about my struggles with vegetable gardening in a back yard with a western exposure during three of the hottest summers in recent history.  I gave up the gardening and I gave up the blog. We took out the raised beds and cultivated a crop of bermuda grass and weeds.

Life has had its ups and downs.  My husband underwent cancer surgery and is now cancer free. Thank you, Lord.  He also had an unexplained heart attack.  Unexplained in the sense that ALL tests came back squeaky clean.  Our son graduated college and is now one of the millions of graduates looking for a job.  A year later, he is renewing his studies to hopefully open some new doors.  I’m three years older, still working at the same job, but generally enjoying life.  My husband and I went through a period of several months of refurbishing our home in the hopes of selling it and moving into something a little newer and in an area with a little more of nature around us.  But, quite honestly, we didn’t find anything for which we were willing to start another 30 year mortgage or add 45 minutes to our daily commute.

So, here we are.  In our old house, hunkered down for the long haul.  As I gaze upon the blank slate that is my back yard, all I see is the faded fence and the chimney of my neighbor’s house.  No life, no color, no natural beauty.

yard feb. 2014

BUT THAT’S ABOUT TO CHANGE!  I found a wonderful landscaper who has produced a long range plan for planting a mix of native grasses, flowering shrubs, a fruit tree and vegetables to bring our back yard to life.

best yard plan

I don’t know about you, but I cannot live happily, contentedly and simply, without some natural color and beauty around me.  I NEED it.  If I can just look at something beautiful in nature, it helps me keep my financial priorities straight and I don’t spend as much money on frivolous things – helps me keep life simple.  Does that sound weird?  If I’m discontented, I spend money.  Natural beauty calms me and keeps me a little more content with my life.  In The Nature Principle author Richard Louv says “…the human organism needs direct experience with nature.”  We all NEED it.  So if we can’t move to nature, I’m bringing it here. I’m tired of being unhappy with my environment, the lack of natural beauty around me.  I’m tired of wishing we lived somewhere else and I’m going to do something about it!  I asked the landscaper specifically for a plan with plants that can go straight into our clay soil with no major amendment, plants that are heat and drought tolerant, but will give me some color and life.  Ms. Susan Mayberry came through with flying colors!!! If any of you in the OKC area need some help with what to plant where, shoot me an email and I will share her contact information.

So while I’ve been working on changing my environment for the better, I’ve also made a few changes to the blog.  I’ve changed the theme, deleted a couple of pages and added some new ones.  I still have a list of my favorite books, but have added a page where I will be sharing favorite recipes, some from family, some from friends and some I’ve just run across and have enjoyed.  I’ll be sharing my quilting hobby here and probably shutting down my other blog, www.dragonflyquilting.wordpress.com.

So stay tuned!  And keep life simple…

Another Form of Living Local

I hadn’t thought of this until just now.  Tonight my husband and I experienced a different form of living locally. 

Usually for entertainment, we hop onto Netflix for an instant play movie or go to the theater to see the same movies everyone else in the country is paying way too much for.  But tonight we did something a little different. 

There is a local musical  duo, EricaJames, a father (guitar) and daughter (violin) who are totally awesome.  Their music is very relaxing with a touch of Celtic.  I’ve always loved the guitar violin combination but these guys have that connection that, if they were singers, would blend in perfect harmonies.   

They have one CD out and from the sound of things tonight, have a lot of new material that hopefully will be out soon. 

What made it even more enjoyable is that Erica’s husband and two small kids were there along with siblings and Mom.  It was definitely a family affair.  Take a look at their website and download their music.  They have improved a lot since their original CD was put out a few years ago, but its still good melody.

http://www.ericajameslive.com . 

A local coffee shop, real community, real local living.  Must do it more often.

Thank You OU!!

Thank you University of Oklahoma.  I mean it.  They stepped up and did the right thing and I am very grateful. 

My son and three other students were scheduled to arrive in northern Japan the 1st of April for a semester’s study at Yamagata University.  At first OU closed that site as a destination, but after further deterioration of the situation there, has closed Japan entirely to exchange students.  Thank you!!!

We were struggling with a decision as to whether to send D. to a southern university there.  He has worked so hard to make it happen this year.  But now the decision is out of our hands and my prayer that things would work out in his best interest has been answered.  Thank you Lord! Thank you OU! 

So, in complete opposition to the “live simply” mantra, since airline tickets AND tuition will be fully refunded, we granted permission for a little retail therapy.  He is now the proud owner of a new 37″ flat screen TV.  Oh, well.  He will have lost an entire semester toward graduation credits, but he is here and not being exposed to radiation.  His future health is not at risk from that particular hazard anyway. 

So we will move on to the next step.  He still has a job since his leave of absence had not gone into effect yet.  He still has a place to live since his lease does not end until May.  And he can go to summer school to make up a couple of the classes he lost. 

Looking across the ocean, let’s pray for the people of Japan.  And lets take a lesson from them.  There has been no looting and one news account said they are continuing to recycle at the refugee centers, in spite of their miserable conditions.  And let’s not forget the families of the 1300 Americans who were in northern Japan when the quake/tsunami struck.  Many are still waiting to hear about their loved ones. 

I’m counting my blessings today.  What are you grateful for?  

Keep it simple ya’ll.

Ugh (its so hard to come up with titles for these stupid things)

I’m so tired.  Maybe its daylight savings time.  I did really well the first few days and then BOOM! this morning I’m really dragging.  I had to work until 7 last night on my feet in bad shoes.  May not sound like a big deal, but for someone who has chronic feet and leg problems, its huge.  I tossed and turned all night with the pain even after taking 800mg of ibuprofen – which always works with other types of pain but for some reason doesn’t phase my foot and leg pain. 

Or maybe its the sugar overload I’ve been on lately.  I was doing great.  Down 3 pounds which is a big deal for post-menapausal life.  Then my neighbor brought me a King Cake from Mardi Gras.  Ate my fill and put the rest in the freezer.  Yea, me.  Then my husband felt sorry for a co-worker and bought 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.  One box of thin mints eaten for dinner all at one sitting.  Dessert overload at my son’s going away party – although he may not be going to Japan now – still in limbo on that decision – another story for another time, but could be contributing to my blahness.  Birthday cake for a coworker. Cupcake from the gourmet bakery after gourging on Mexican food for lunch yesterday.  I usually pass when co-workers go out for Tex-Mex at lunch because it is SO much food, but it was that same birthday and not wanting to be a stick in the mud, went along.  Then a couple of cookies at the exhibit opening last night.  This morning I feel like crap.  Vision even slightly blurred.  Diabetes runs in the family.  I’m in denial.  Never check my blood sugar.  Whine……………….

On the up side, the weather is warming nicely.  Hopefully the frost we had on the windshield Tuesday morning was the last of the season.  Pretty soon I’ll be griping about the heat!  But while I’m griping I’ll be eating home grown okra!  Woohoo! 

Be praying for the people of Japan.

A Simple Step Toward Stewardship

Just like most folks these days, my ever decreasing paycheck – due to increases in health insurance premiums for the year – and the ever increasing prices in gasoline, groceries and clothing means my paycheck doesn’t go as far as it used to.  The money belt is getting tighter.  Maybe its just my expanding midsection, but that’s a whole other issue. 

This can be a serious problem to an avid reader.  I love books.  No way around it.  I pride myself in buying from local bookstores rather than the big chains like Barnes and Noble or Borders.  La vida local!  But I had to take a step back recently when I found several books I wanted to purchase.

There is no way I can justify spending $80 on 4 books.  Just can’t do it.  The answer?  Well, duh, you’re saying about now.  The local library!  I turn to it often for my fiction fix, but tend toward purchasing when I want to add to my “resource material.”  Can’t do it this time.  Fortunately for me, Oklahoma City has a huge system of neighborhood branch libraries.  What may not be on the shelf at my local branch most likely is somewhere else in the city.  All I need to do is go online and put in a reserve for the book.  Presto!  Three days later I get an email telling me to come pick it up at my local branch.  I was happy to find all four books there.  Most times I find what I want, sometimes I don’t.   I realized that this latest book wish list is more biographical  than true resource or reference titles that will be of use later.  Those I purchase, if after borrowing from the library I decide I must own them. Simple Prosperity by David Wann is a good example – definitely one of those books that requires a highlighter.  So inspirational. I returned the library copy immediately and headed for Full Circle Books.  They had it!  Full price, but local.    Buying used is good, too, but that means buying online which means paying shipping.  Not always a savings and does nothing for my local economy.

So for now, being a better steward of our money by getting books from the library means I have more money to purchase organic food from the food co-op.  I get to improve my mental health – no guilt over buying books, improving my sustainability knowledge – and my physical health – better food – maybe a smaller midsection?   A win win, if you ask me.  Something else, too.  By being forced to wait a few days to get my hands on a book, I have actually found that by the time the email arrives in my inbox,  I may not want to read the book anymore.  So I  cancel the request and it goes to someone else or back on the shelf.  I haven’t spent money on an impulse purchase.  Better yet, I haven’t spent money on a book just to delve eagerly into the first chapter and then say, “Dude, who told you you could write!”  No money wasted on a book I’ll never finish.

Take a look around. Bet you can find ways to be a  better steward of what you’ve been blessed with. 

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

A Ridiculously Long Time

Yes, its been a ridiculously LONG time since I’ve posted anything new here.  June 3rd, to be exact. 

A lot has happened in the last 2-plus months.  The garden has been growing exponentially on a daily basis.  Okra! Okra! Okra!  The tomato plants are big and green but VERY few tomatoes have made it to the table.  What’s up with that?  We’ve gotten 5 very nice cantalopes and have a few more on the vine.  My late season onions did nicely.  I will plant all three beds in the spring and try to sell them.  The squash bloomed magnificently but failed to produce a single fruit – or vege.  Fruit sounds more poetic, don’t you think?  Anyway, we ain’t got no squash.    Some random vine keeps trying to overtake my spirea (sp?) and I have to remove it daily.  The “ever-bearing” strawberries blessed us bountifully in June (just like the “June bearing” variety) and haven’t been seen since.  The heat has just about killed them.  I really need to get out there and thin out the bed, but its so dang hot.  Day after day after day of temps over 100 degrees.  It makes it really hard to water.  I try to wait until the sun goes behind the trees about 8 p.m., but as soon as the water hose comes out, so do the mosquitoes.  I refuse to spray myself with the chemical stuff and instead use a locally produced natural ingredient repellent, but if you miss even one small spot with the stuff, the little biters find it and attack and its repellent properties are only good for about 15 minutes.  Whine whine whine….. My Mom was right about the blackeye peas.  You need to plant A LOT of them to get enough to eat.  Out of the whole bed I planted, only 3 plants came up (soil too cold and the seed rotted), but the vines of those 3 amigos have grown wild. Even so, they haven’t produced enough for a single meal even at this point.  So, note for next year:  no blackeye peas; plant okra in a straight line, not in a bed.  Too itchy and scratchy reaching in to pick.  Plant tomatoes in a different spot.  One bed for cantalope and one for squash.  

We finally got to take a vacation in August.  DH and son had a great time hiking and rafting on the Rio Grande while I suffered mightily at a 3 day quilting retreat in Angel Fire, NM.  The torture consisted of uninterrupted creative sewing time, gourmet meals

Just one of the sumptuous desserts!

and reacquaintance with friends made at a Santa Fe retreat in ’07.  Such suffering!! 

Notice the deck and pine trees outside the windows!

 I got an entire quilt top finished in 2-1/2 days, got in some serious gift shopping for the neighbor caring for the critters, and was awed and amazed at the quantity and beauty of the local hummingbirds.  That’s something you just don’t see in Oklahoma.  The first night we were there it rained and thundered and was so chilly we had to put on sweaters.  Most of the women were from the Texas panhandle, as were our hostesses.  You know you’re around a bunch of true Texas women when the conversation during Meet and Greet turns to the prolificacy of rattlesnakes this year!  Then there were the “Albuquerque 3”.  They kept us laughing the whole weekend.  It was wonderful.

So, now we’re back home.  Laundry is semi caught up – okay, is laundry ever caught up?  And I’m SOOOOOO ready for the garden to stop producing for this year.  My Mom says, “Just pull it up!”, but there is something inside that won’t let me destroy plants that are still producing food for my table.  Especially the okra.  Its almost blasphemy to pull up plants that are still offering up those sweet pods that are so good fried just to the point of being burnt.  Crunch, crunch, yum……